Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Burton AlbionAdam McGurk's eighth strike of the season was enough to see Albion to another 1-0 victory and end Plymouth Argyle's eight match unbeaten run. In a game that was far from a classic, McGurk's twelfth minute strike was a rare moment of quality as his 18 yard effort crept inside the post to secure Albion's sixth away victory of the campaign. It lifted the Brewers up a place to sixth and just a point from the summit of the Skybet League 2 table.
Following back to back 1-0 home victories over Bristol Rovers and Mansfield Town, Brewers boss Gary Rowett resisted the temptation to change a winning side. That meant another chance for the fledgling strike partnership of Adam McGurk and Dominic Knowles with both Billy Kee and Rene Howe champing at the bit on the bench. The only changes on the bench saw Aston Villa loanee Benjamin Siegrist replacing Kevin Poole as the substitute goalkeeper and Jimmy Phillips returning to the fold after serving his one match suspension.
In bright November sunshine it was Albion who made a purposeful start gaining possession in the early stages and squandering a good chance inside five minutes. Chris Hussey got to the bye line and put in a good cross that eventually came for Matty Palmer at the back post but he was unable to keep his shot down and blazed over from close in.
Plymouth took a while to get into their stride and it was the eleventh minute when they produced their first chance of any note. Some good battling on the edge of the box saw the ball come out to Andres Gurrieri but the former Albion man could only curl an effort wide of the far post. Within a minute Albion made their hosts pay by taking the lead with a clinical finish. Phil Edwards searching ball forward was only headed up in the air by Neal Trotman and when it came down Adam McGURK showed the greater speed of thought to control the ball and make space for a low left foot drive from the edge of the box that evaded the dive of Luke McCormick to nestle in the corner of the net.
The Pilgrims responded quickly and twice had chances to equalise. Lewis Allesandra saw a low shot deflect narrowly wide of the right hand post and from the resulting corner Trotman almost made amends for his earlier error with a towering header that was kicked off the line by Robbie Weir.
The home side were forced into a change on 25 minutes when speedy frontman Tope Obadeyi pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and Sheffield Wednesday loanee Caolan Lavery took his place forcing something of a reshuffle among the Plymouth ranks.
Only a good interception inside the six yard box by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff kept Albion's lead in tact before another cross shot from range flew wide of Lyness' left hand post as Plymouth went in search of the equaliser.
Reuben Reid then had a superb chance to put the hosts back on level terms just after the half hour mark when he found space at the back post, inside the six yard box but failed to test Lyness. With the Pilgrims getting up a head of steam Albion tweaked their formation switching Chris Hussey to the right and pulling Dominic Knowles into a wide left position and putting Matty Palmer more central leaving Adam McGurk as the lone striker.
Reid then drilled a low shot wide of the far post, only after he had been tugged back by Cansdell-Sherriff with referee Graham Salisbury playing advantage much to the annoyance of the home faithful.
In the final minute of the half a rare lapse by Damien McCrory, the former Plymouth man, gifted possession to the home side and Reid sent Gurrieri scampering away down the right before delivering an inviting cross back into the middle for Reid who, headed wide of the target from no more than eight yards when he should really have, at least, tested the keeper.
Phil Edwards picked up a booking as the half came to a close, a clumsy challenge on Lavery saw him enter the book but Plymouth could not capitalise from the free kick and Albion held ther lead going into the break.
Half time: Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Burton Albion
When the teams reappeared for the second half there was a change in the Albion ranks. Dominic Knowles failed to reappear and in his place was Rene Howe who assumed a central role, Adam McGurk dropping out to the left hand side.
Howe made an instant impact and on 50 minutes he hit a glorious cross field that played in McGurk and he got ahead of his man to force a good save from McCormick low to his left.
Ian Sharps required attention after a clash of heads with Trotman and was then beaten at the back post as Plymouth swung in a corner.
Howe then had the ball in the net on 56 minutes as Trotman appeared to slip on the ball but referee Salisbury decided to penalise the Albion man for a push on the defender just before he put the ball beyond McCormick from close range.
Burton were looking a lot more fluid and controlled and a handball decision against Matty Palmer denied him as he looked to pull the trigger from 25 yards out.
Albion looked to be in control of the game but there was always a danger when Plymouth got in and around the edge of Burton's penalty area. Jamie Reckord delivered a low centre on 70 minutes and as the Brewers made hard work of clearing their lines Gurrieri snatched at a chance, lifting the ball high over the bar.
Adam McGurk was substituted on 73 minutes as Albion freshened things up. The Burton goalscorer had struggled after taking a knock towards the end of the first half and he was finally taken off to allow Jimmy Phillips to return to the action down the left hand side.
Chris Hussey was the second Albion man booked, on 76 minutes, when he chased a hopeful ball into the area and collided with Luke McCormick just after he had collected the through ball into his grasp.
A third player went into referee Salisbury's book and this time it was substitute Phillips who conceded a foul when he should really have cleared the ball. Plymouth were unable to profit from the free kick with a wild shot over the bar summing up the frustrations of the home side. Reid came closer moments later as a long ball forward found him on the edge of the area but his shot on the turn was comfortable for Lyness.
On eighty three minutes Albion played their third substitution and it was young midfidler Matty Palmer whose number went up as he was replaced for the closing stages by Zander Diamond, the former Aberdeen man asked to sit in front of the back four and provide extra defensive cover.
Plymouth also made a late change and it was another former Albion man entering the fray with Rommy Boco replacing Jamie Reckord on the left hand side for the Pilgrims. Another good chance fell to the hosts moments later as skipper Conor Hourihane was just put off by a last ditch challenge in the box his eventual shot, like so many other going well off target.
With the game into the second minute of stoppage time Robbie Weir grabbed possession and flashed a long range effort at goal but it was never going to seriously trouble McCormick in the Plymouth goal.
When the final whistle blew shortly afterwards it was another hard earned win for Gary Rowett's men that further enhances their promotion aspirations.